6 Best Small Laptops in 2021

By Robin Owens 13 days ago, Hardware

What are the best small laptops for office tasks?

best small laptops

If you don’t have loads of cash laying around and need to find an affordable lightweight laptop to use it for studies or other tasks, you will benefit from buying a compact model. I have compiled this list to help you buy the best small laptop for your needs. Here, you will find both budget and more expensive options with advanced specs.

When choosing a small-sized laptop for photo editing on a budget, you need to pay special attention both to its key features and compatibility with other devices to avoid spending more money than you can afford.

Top 6 Best Small Laptops

  1. MacBook Air 13-inch - Our Choice
  2. HP Envy - Reliable Workhorse
  3. Dell Inspiron - Budget
  4. ASUS VivoBook - Stylish
  5. Lenovo Yoga - Fast charging
  6. HP Elite Dragonfly - Compact

When selecting a laptop, you might get overwhelmed with a wide choice of options available. However, this task can be easily solved, provided you know what you are looking for. I will tell you, which specifications you need to pay attention to when choosing a laptop for graphic design or other activities.

The good thing is that small laptops are perfectly suitable for office use because they have been designed to solve work-related tasks. This is what makes them a perfect replacement for tablets for college students. I have hand-picked the best options available and described the pros and cons in detail to facilitate your choice.

1. MacBook Air 13-inch

Our Choice
macbook air 13-inch laptop

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3 (3.2GHz) | GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB | Display: 13.3-inch | Weight: 2.8 pound

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⊕ Extremely fast
⊕ Amazing quality
⊕ Great storage
⊕ High-end design
⊖ Bleak colors
⊖ 720p webcam

It came as a surprise when Apple released this offering in the MacBook Air line. Two years later, this best small laptop still one of the most popular models on the market boasting a thin and lightweight design. If you have some money, take a look at this top-tier laptop with the premium build quality and advanced components. Besides, now it finally costs no more than $999.

The Retina display produces sharp images. However, unlike the MacBook Pro, it doesn’t support the P3 color gamut. While it’s marketed as a laptop with a 2560x1600 resolution, it’s set to 1440x900 by default.

The thing I liked the most about this model is that it finally became affordable enough for anyone who wants to purchase a Mac laptop. The MacBook Air is a reliable device that boasts Apple’s signature quality and will serve you for many years to come.

2. HP Envy

Reliable Workhorse
hp envy small laptop

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U | GPU: Discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB | Display: 13-inch | Weight: 3.53 pound

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⊕ Thin profile, lightweight design
⊕ 4K display with great brightness
⊕ Impressive 4-core performance
⊕ Relatively cheap
⊖ A trackpad is too sensitive
⊖ Battery life is a bit disappointing

You will enjoy using the HP Envy 12 as it has an ultra-slim design, a 4K display with decent brightness and a comfortable-to-use keypad. If you take into account its quad-core CPU, powerful GPU and a decent battery, this compact laptop is a great value for the money.

Hewlett Packard created a laptop with a powerful 4-core processor and the GPU similar to the Nvidia GeForce MX250. Its chassis is made of metal, the device comes with a nice design. As most of the specifications are pretty basic, you won’t make the most out of this CPU, however, it delivers a remarkable multi-thread performance.

The Envy is a decent option for students and avid travelers. You will be impressed with its battery capacity, which allows you to use this laptop for 11 hours straight. The chassis is quite sleek, which adds to the portability of the device. The speakers deliver great sound quality, while the CPU accounts for fast performance.

3. Dell Inspiron

Budget
dell inspiron laptop

CPU: 7th Generation AMD A9-9420e Processor with Radeon™ R5 Graphics | GPU: AMD Radeon R5 | RAM: 4 GB | Storage: 64 GB | Display: 11.6-inch | Weight: 2.57 pound

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⊕ Responsive touchscreen
⊕ Top-notch CPU performance
⊕ Affordable
⊖ Limited storage space

This laptop is so thin that it looks more like a paperback book. You can carry this 2-in1 model in your bag. Besides, you don’t need to always stay at your desk to use it. It’s so lightweight, you can take it with you to a park or on a trip.

You won’t face any difficulties when setting it up and will be impressed with the high-speed performance that makes it stand out among its competitors. The touchscreen is quite responsive. Even with 4GB of RAM, the operating system loads quickly and delivers fast performance if you don’t open too many windows at once.

Another key advantage of this small laptop computer is its high-performance processor. This small-sized model is quite effective when it comes to basic typing tasks.

You might be a bit disappointed with the quality of the touchpad. Besides, it’s worth purchasing an SD card to expand your storage space. For some purposes, you’d better upgrade RAM as well. If you need to use your laptop for basic tasks, it can be used as it is without further upgrades.

4. ASUS VivoBook

Stylish
asus vivobook laptop

CPU: Intel Celeron N4000 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 600 | RAM: 4 GB | Storage: 64 GB | Display: 11.6-inch | Weight: 2.2 pound

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⊕ Very cheap
⊕ Stylish, compact design
⊕ USB-C connectivity
⊖ VGA webcam

The ASUS VivoBook L203MA has decent specifications, which makes it a smart choice for college students who can’t spend a hefty sum on a laptop. Besides being extremely compact and well-put-together, it has a unique design, comes with an HD display and great connectivity options.

All these features make it an amazing choice for budget-conscious people who are looking for a cheap, small laptop for casual use and occasional typing. This best small laptop weighs about 2 pounds, comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space, which makes it one of the best $200 models.

It copes with almost all the task easily, provided you don’t use it for heavy gaming or running resource-consuming software.

5. Lenovo Yoga

Fast charging
lenovo yoga laptop

CPU: 1.60GHz Intel Core i5-8250U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8 GB | Storage: 256 GB | Display: 13.3-inch | Weight: 2.47 pound

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⊕ Solid build
⊕ Comfortable-to-use trackpad
⊕ Can be charged quickly
⊖ Poor-quality speakers
⊖ Unimpressive battery life
⊖ Might seem too heavy

The Lenovo Yoga 730 is a perfect balance of reliability and a cheap price. It’s made of durable materials and is extremely compact. You can use it for long hours without encountering any difficulties. Some models out there have a better battery capacity and speakers, but it’s still a good enough option to consider.

It has an ergonomic shape, modern design, reliable hinge and nice keyboard. Besides, this compact laptop comes with other handy features that will help you optimize your workflow. While the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 delivers faster performance, has better specifications and display, the Yoga 730 is still a pretty impressive option, especially if you consider its price.

Because of its thin design, the Yoga 730 doesn’t have a top-notch battery capacity. It lasts up to 7 hours, which is significantly lower than you would expect from a small keyboard. There are some issues with build quality as well. What’s more, while the display covers a wide color gamut, color accuracy is not always at the top level.

6. HP Elite Dragonfly

Compact
hp elite dragonfly laptop

CPU: Intel Core i5-8265U | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16 GB | Storage: 512 GB | Display: 13.3-inch | Weight: 2.51 pound

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⊕ Streamlined design
⊕ Remarkable battery life
⊕ Perfect keyboard
⊕ LTE compatible
⊖ A hefty price

The HP Elite Dragonfly is one of the best solutions for top-notch professionals who need to travel a lot. Featuring a thin-profile and modern design, it delivers a remarkable performance. You might need to save up a bit to purchase it, but this model is well worth the money.

There are some insignificant shortcomings, but you can easily overlook them as the Dragonfly exceeds at solving the most complex tasks. If you are looking for the best small laptop that comes with a processor supporting the Intel vPro platform, an integrated Tile’s tracking device and advanced privacy options, look no further. It’s the only model on the market that combines all these features.

While Dragonfly has been designed as a business device, it is perfectly suitable for other uses as well. The only it’s shortcoming is that it comes with an 8th Gen CPU, as other options aren’t compatible with Intel vPro technology. Aside from that, it’s a decent model with amazing design, great durability, an easy-to-use keyboard and perfect display brightness. Its battery lasts up to 13 hours between charges.

Image Name Features  
macbook air 13-inch laptop
MacBook Air 13-inch
Our Choice
  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i3 (3.2GHz)
  • GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB
CHECK PRICE
dell inspiron laptop
Dell Inspiron
Budget
  • CPU: 7th Generation AMD A9-9420e Processor with Radeon™ R5 Graphics
  • GPU: AMD Radeon R5
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
CHECK PRICE
hp envy small laptop
HP Envy
Reliable Workhorse
  • CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U
  • GPU: Discrete Nvidia GeForce MX250
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 256 GB
CHECK PRICE

How to Choose the Best Small Laptop?

best small laptop

Battery Life

Even the most expensive models have subpar battery life, however, small laptops for college students boast better battery capacity. With them, you won’t need to worry about your device shutting down unexpectedly. It’s mostly because they have less powerful processors and are more energy-efficient than their standard-sized counterparts. While their specs might seem quite basic, they will suffice for solving simple tasks. Besides, nobody buys a small laptop for gaming. If you need a device for casual use, note that such laptops last up to 10 hours without being plugged in.

Keyboard Ergonomics

As the size of such devices is pretty small, you might need to get accustomed to typing on a mini-keyboard. It might take you some time to get used to it, but soon enough you will hardly notice a difference between it and a regular keyboard. If you plan using a laptop for typing, the keyboard quality is of utmost importance as it might make your laptop unusable if it stops functioning properly. Even if you don’t spill your coffee on it, some keys might still become unresponsive in time, especially, if you use a peripheral device on daily basis.

best small laptop

2-in-1 Laptops

These small laptops are suitable for those who are looking for devices that can be used as tablets. While the Surface Book 2 can be hardly considered the best laptop for the money, there are plenty of less expensive models available. Thanks to 360-degree hinges that can be easily detached, you can quickly transform your laptop into a tablet and enjoy working in Windows 10 or Chrome OS while using a touchscreen.

Graphics

If you are a fan of casual gaming and enjoy playing the recent titles, you will need to think about purchasing a decent GPU that can cope with action-packed games. However, if your budget is rather limited and you can't afford to buy the best Apple laptop, it might prove to be challenging to find a mini-laptop for such games as Overwatch or Witcher. Most such models come with a basic Intel HD GPU.

If you want to use your mini laptop for gaming, you will need to purchase a more powerful graphics card for a more immersive experience.

FAQ

  • • Do I need to buy a mini-laptop?

Buying a small laptop might be a smart idea as they have significant advantages. As such models are extremely lightweight and can fit in any bag, you can take them with you wherever you go. They will help you to solve all your tasks on the go, even if you don’t spend lots of time at your office desk.

  • • What option is better, a notebook or laptop?

Before making your choice, think carefully about what is more important, high-quality performance or a price. If you want to buy a portable and affordable option, take a look at notebooks. While they have limited hard drive space, low processing speed and fewer USB ports than standard laptops, they are extremely cheap. With a laptop, you can quickly solve advanced design and video-editing tasks. They are more suitable for gamers as well.

  • • What is a decent CPU speed?

If you are a gamer, you need to buy a laptop with a clock speed ranging from 3.5 to 4.0 GHz. A CPU should also have the perfect single-thread performance to solve tasks more efficiently. However, it doesn’t mean that you need to buy a single-core CPU.

  • • How much should I pay for a good-quality laptop?

If you can afford to spend $800-1000 on a laptop, you will find a decent option in no time. While it won’t suffice to buy a high-end device, it’s more than enough to purchase a great mini laptop. Those who are serious about gaming will need to spend at least $1500 to buy a powerful device.

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